Friday, March 10, 2017

Day 25: The Lone Pine Resupply

Camping on the east side of Kearsarge Pass had one wonderful advantage: we got sunlight very early in the morning! Most mornings, the sun is hidden behind tall mountains and stays stubbornly hidden, and the air is cold and uninviting. Not today, though. The sun gleamed over Gilbert Lake and tickled us awake.

The hike down to the Onion Valley trailhead took us about an hour, and we arrived quite early in the morning. Normally I'd have been worried about such an early arrival. Day hikers would be coming up the mountain in the morning, but who would be going down? But! There's a campground by the trailhead, and any of those campers might be heading down the mountain. Maybe they're done with their trip, or maybe they were going to some other trailhead to hike for the day, but the point was that people likely went up and down this road all day long.

So we hoofed it across the parking lot and set up by the side of the road, ready to stick out our thumbs to the first car that would pass by. A maintenance guy in a golf cart was making the rounds, picking up trash, but we didn't stick out our thumbs for him. He was obviously working and probably wouldn't drive us into town on a golf cart anyhow. We did say hi to him when he got near us, though, and he stopped to talk--seemingly thrilled and surprised that we were so friendly as to say hi. So happy was he about this, he pulled out a couple of apples that he gave to us.

We chatted for a few minutes and told him about our plans to resupply in Lone Pine, and he assured us that getting a ride out ought to be very easy. People do it all the time, and it's a popular trailhead. That's good to know!

And it was easy. Within 10 minutes or so, a car pulled over. "Where are you headed?" the man asked.

"Lone Pine," we told him, "but we'd be happy with a ride as far as Independence if you were heading in the opposite direction."

But he was heading into Lone Pine as well so we were hooked up all the way into town. Yes!

The man--whose name, for some bizarre reason, I never wrote in my journal so I know no longer remember the name--introduced himself and said that he was a forest service firefighter, and he told us all sorts of interesting information about forest fires and tales of fighting them. I think Karolina was a little disappointed to learn that he was married and had children. Later I'd also point out that he lived about 10,000 miles away from her, which would probably have been a stumbling block as well.

We arrived into Lone Pine by around 10:30 in the morning--way too early to be checking into the hostel, although that didn't stop us from dropping in just to make sure. And sure enough, they said to come back in a couple of hours, so we browsed through a couple of shops then ate lunch at the Mount Whitney Restaurant.

Karolina was excited to see that they had a buffalo burger on the menu because she had never eaten buffalo before. It was something new and exciting! I warned her that I had it before and that I really couldn't tell the difference between it and a regular cow-burger. For all I know, they could have served a cow-burger and just told me it was a buffalo-burger.

But she ordered it anyhow, excited at the idea of trying buffalo for the first time. She seemed a little disappointed after taking the first bite. "It tastes just like a normal burger," she complained.

"Well, I did try to warn you...." I replied. =)

By the time we finished lunch, we headed back to the hostel to see if we could check in yet, and we could. The hostel separated us into a boys room and a girls room, which was fine. Just in case Karolina was getting a little tired of me being around all the time, I figured a night apart might do us good.

We agreed to take showers and clean up, then meet out front on the second-level patio area in an hour or so and work on laundry.

So we took our separate showers. I got on the Internet briefly and chatted with one of the other guys sharing my room, then met up with Karolina out front with a bag full of dirty laundry. The hostel didn't have any laundry machines, but there was a laundromat a half-block away that we walked to.

We loaded our clothes into the washing machine, and when we stuck in a quarter, nothing happened. We pushed the eject button, and two quarters came out. Cool!

So we tried putting in a quarter again, and again, two quarters came out. Sweet!

We kept doing this, eventually pulling out a couple of dollars worth of quarters before it stopped giving out free quarters.

Then we started trying it with other machines, but none of the other washing machines gave us free quarters. We wound up moving our clothes into a different machine since we weren't able to get that first one to work--except for collecting free quarters.

With the clothes washing, I sat down to wait. Karolina wanted to look around some more shops, though, so she went off and I sat down reading my book and writing in my journal waiting until the clothes were done.

While waiting, another guy came in and moved his clothes from a washing machine into a front-loading dryer. He popped in some quarters, hit the start button, and a strange thing started happening--the dryer started filling up with water.

He exclaimed, "What?! Wait!" and hit some more buttons on the machine, trying to get it to stop, but it was too late. It was washing his clothes.

"I thought it was a dryer," he told me sadly.

I couldn't help but laugh. I thought it was a dryer too! The washing machine he took his clothes out of was a top-loading machine, and you see a machine next to it that opens from the front, and you just kind of assume that's the dryer--not a front-loading washing machine. By this point, his clothes were sopping wet and he already put in the quarters. May as well just let it run.

"I've been backpacking for the last week," he told me. "They could probably use another wash anyhow."

True, that. *nodding* I wondered how many other people have made that mistake. I kind of wondered if the people who ran this establishment deliberately set it up to trick people into washing their clothes a second time. I'd have done exactly what this man had done if I hadn't seen him do it first, and I doubted very much that we would have been the first to make that mistake.

I thanked the man for letting me know that those machines I thought were dryers were actually washing machines. I'd double check I was using an actual dryer when it came time to move our clothes.

The washer finished, and I moved our clothes into a dryer--a real dryer, and not one of those washing machines that looked like a dryer. Karolina showed up again about five or ten minutes before the dryer finished and I told her the washer/dryer story to pass the time.

When our clothes were dry, we took them back to the hostel, then headed out to walk around and get the lay of the town. We stopped for root beer floats--the first time Karolina had had one.

We stopped at the library to get online, checked out a free local museum (which, admittedly, we weren't particularly impressed with, but it was free!) and dropped by the post office to mail postcards.

Then we resupplied at Joseph's Bi-Rite Market. Planning the last stage of our trip was easy. There would be no more resupply points. We needed enough to finish the trail. No more, no less! The weather forecasts looked good as well so we didn't have to concern ourselves with planning for low-mileage days. We did look at the expected cloud cover--we wanted to be on the summit of Mount Whitney on a clear day, after all! But everything looked fine.... And we only needed a mere five days (four nights) of food. Easy, shmeasy!

The market wasn't a supermarket, though. It was a much smaller establishment than our previous resupply options so the selection of goods wasn't great, but it was sufficient. Much better than any convenience store, at least.

For dinner, we stopped at the Bonanza Mexican Restaurant because Karolina hadn't tried Mexican food in America yet.

And then we sat out on the second-floor patio of the hostel eating watermelon and just chatting the rest of the night. A Belgium girl named Laura joined us, Karolina's new friend who was sharing the same room as her. Laura lived not that far from where Karolina lived, and they were excited about the idea of doing some hikes in Europe together after they both returned home. Laura was hiking the JMT northbound, starting at Mount Whitney and asked us all sorts of questions about the terrain we had already covered. She had yet to step on the trail herself--Lone Pine is the gateway to Mount Whitney and the end of the JMT. From Lone Pine, we were actually closer to that trailhead than we were to the Onion Valley trailhead where we got off at, and we tried to figure out where we'd likely cross paths on the JMT. When we finished the trail, we'd be going through Lone Pine again.

And then we all headed off to sleep. The girls headed to their room, and I headed to mine. There were half a dozen guys in my room, and most of them were older and had already gone to sleep, so I tip-toed through the room to my bed and quietly crawled into bed to sleep.

Karolina was so hungry, she could eat a buffalo! And she did. *nodding*

Karolina tries out these odd American contraptions....

Getting the laundry done! Good times! Good times....
Karolina was so dirty, I figured she needed a good washing too. *nodding* (This is actually a dryer, though.)
Hanging out on the patio of the hostel.

This mural looked... unfinished...
The museum wasn't particularly exciting, but it was free! =)
I really liked the line of silhouettes and the backlight behind them in the Mexican restaurant.
We spent most of the evening on the patio chatting with Laura and admiring the views. =) Mount Whitney is back there on the horizon. The end is near....

1 comment:

Mary said...

I think that mural depicts the salt flats in Death Valley which is less than 2 hours away. Borax was mined there and that mural looks like that's what they're doing so the blank expanse is just salt, borax, talc, etc.

Really!!!! Wearing shoes in a nice clean dryer! Karolina!!!!!! Always remove your shoes before playing in the dryer!